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Missile caused mysterious 'lights' over Hawaiian islands

By Craig Gima

LAST UPDATED: 4:43 p.m. HST, May 21, 2014

The Defense Department conducted a test of a land-based missile system about the same time that mysterious lights were seen and photographed in the skies above Hawaii Tuesday evening.

The Missile Defense Agency, the U.S. Navy, and sailors at the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Complex and Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai launched a land-based Aegis Standard Missile 3 Block IB guided missile. It was the first test of the new Aegis Ashore system.

During the test, a simulated ballistic missile target was acquired, tracked, and engaged by the Aegis Weapon System at about 7:35 p.m. Hawaii time Tuesday.

At about the same time, Hawaii residents reported seeing strange lights in the sky that looked like a missile contrail.

Stefan Alford, a spokesman for the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, said Wednesday that the lines were condensed water vapor trailing the missile twisted by upper level winds. 

Paul Javier, who took pictures of what he saw and sent them to the Star-Advertiser, said "It looked like a zig zagging meteor threading in and out of the night sky." 

The purpose of the missile test was to confirm that the Aegis Ashore system works by launching a land-based SM-3. 

A test missile target was not launched.

The Aegis Ashore system is similar to the launch system, fire control system, and SPY-1 radar used on Navy ships. The system is planned to be deployed in Romania in 2015 as part of the European missile defense shield.

The Pacific Missile Range Facility announced this month that they would be conducting a test.

Tuesday's test is the first of several planned at the Barking Sands, Kauai facility for the land-based Aegis system.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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